What is “the American Latino?” This question was one of the first we had when we met with Jason Torrico, founder and CEO of Latin è Entertainment. This melting pot of a term is used to speak expressly about second and third generation Latinos – those who speak English at school, and maybe Spanish at home; those who perhaps haven’t lived in their parent’s or grandparent’s birth-countries but are interested in keeping their family’s culture alive.
While Latinos make up the largest minority group in the U.S., mainstream media has largely ignored this rich and vibrant culture. Besides Telemundo and Univision, which we all know are hardly worth watching even if you do speak Spanish, and impossible to understand if you don’t, there is very little entertainment out there for the American Latino community.
And that’s where Latin é comes in.
Growing up in New York, Torrico said he always felt slightly different because he didn’t have the “full” Latin experience of those who are born in Latin counties. As he grew older, he met more Latinos like himself who all yearned for a network with shows and channels catered to their lifestyle.
“We all know that the U.S. is a melting pot,” Torrico said, “so we came up with the idea of offering programming rooted in the Latino culture but with a fusion of what the American culture offers to us as well.”
This idea became a reality when Toricco’s cousin and best friend talked with him about the idea and began polling friends and relatives to see what they thought about the idea. After doing research and receiving positive feedback, they sat down and decided to make it happen.
Now, a year later, Latin é has grown from a fledgling idea to a full-fledged and fully realized company. Torrico said that, “the growth of Latin é has been a huge blessing and the result of supporters,” of which the company has quite a few. Celebrities such as comedian Erik Rivera; singer, Pitbull,; recording artist, Ricky C.; fitness pro and model, Vida Guerra (pictured below with Torrico); and pop sensations, Raquel Ramos and Eli Jas have helped put Latin è on the map.
The mission of Latin é is “to provide unique original programming that caters to the needs of Latinos, while providing a means for non-Latinos to learn about Latino culture.”
“We have a vision of becoming a nationally recognized network,” Torrico said. That will be called LETNetworks, and it may be on your television set sooner than you think.
The numbers don’t lie – Latin é has grown, on average, 30 percent each month through social media (@latin_e), web trafficking and page views. Torrico is confident that those numbers will be doubled or tripled by this time next year.
“I see 2014 as a big year for Latin é,” Torrico said. Currently in the works for the next year are a range of projects for a new fashion and wellness show called Latin è Style, which will air on local television this summer, and a few other programs that will be released on web-based platforms such as Hulu and Netflix.
Torrico said that “Latin é is all about creative, forward-thinking people who are passionate about doing something different.” They look for versatile people who can go from working in a team to getting a project done alone in a short amount of time, without sacrificing quality in the fast-paced entertainment industry.
“The way we see it at Latin é is that we don’t think outside the box—we think like there’s no box to begin with,” Torrico said. “We never turn down a great idea or a well-rounded go-getter,” Torrico said.
“What he meant was that time is the only thing you do not get back in life. So don’t wait—act,” he said. His second piece of advice is to seek the advice and criticism of those you trust. “The more constructive criticism, recommendations and advice you get,” he said, “the more prepared you will be to identify and overcome future challenges.”
For those students wanting to start their own company or work for a startup after graduation, Torrico offered two pieces of advice. The first, he said, is the same advice his father once gave him. That is, “to just go out and do it.” Every company, big or small, has a careers page, and Torrico said that those interested in working for a company such as his should never be afraid to reach out and send in a resume. After all, you never know what might happen.